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Jared Leto talks about playing trans role backstage at the Oscars

Jared Leto was criticized by trans people when they said he shouldn't have played the role, but an actual trans person should have. He handled the criticism well, and he made up for it in an incredible Oscar speech where he credited the people who have died of AIDS, and people who have felt injustice for who they loved.

Jared Leto wins his first Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club."
Jared Leto wins his first Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club."Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Leto wins first Oscar of the night
Leto wins first Oscar of the nightPhoto by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Leto, who attended his first Academy Awards ceremony, took a break in acting and came back for the role of Rayon in "The Dallas Buyers Club," playing a trans character who is dying of AIDS.

Backstage after taking photos, he offered the media to come take selfies with him, but the Academy wranglers stopped it, and he said, "Oh, no fun. You guys want to get media, let the media do what they do. Viva la revolution, baby."

On the way into the auditorium before the awards, he said he was just having fun. His was the first Oscar handed out Sunday night, and he gave a gracious speech talking about his mother.

"In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream."

He thanked Ellen DeGeneres, his fellow nominees, the Academy and his brother Shannon, "the best big brother in the world, you’re a true artist. Thank you so much for sharing this insane and amazing adventure that is 30 Seconds to Mars, and for being my best friend. I love you."

Backstage, he said that when he was on stage, it was "a different thing, and it's quite impressive and exhilarating and very fun. You know, to look down and see Leo and Meryl Streep, and at one point in my speech, I found myself talking right to De Niro, as if the room wasn't intimidating enough. I was like, bad choice. Let me go back over to my mom."

Leto not only mentioned the people struggling in the Ukraine, but also to the people being suppressed in Venezuela. He was concerned about those places when his band was traveling the world too. He said:

"I want to say we are here and as you struggle to… to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible… We’re thinking of you tonight."

Holding up his golden statuette said, "And this for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you."